top of page

Israel:  The Birthplace of Judaism and Christianity

Led by Dr. Risa Levitt, Director of the Bible Lands Museum

Guided by Amir Orly

September 8-19, 2024

Many Christians and Jews believe that their faiths developed independently from each other, and as a result, are distinct, even antagonistic, towards each other. In this sense, the origins of Judaism and Christianity are viewed as two separate, unrelated events.

This trip provides unprecedented access to key sites related to the period of Jewish & Christian origins and examines the period in-depth. What we will begin to see is both Judaism and Christianity emerge from the same religious tradition--that of ancient Israel.

In telling the common story of Jewish and Christian origins, we will visit key sites that help illustrate the notion that Jews and Christians are siblings, rather than parent and child.  We’ll highlight their similarities which far outweigh their differences, ultimately fostering appreciation for the shared heritage of Judaism and Christianity.

Anchor 1

Dr. Risa Levitt is Executive Director of the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. She is a professor of Hebrew Bible and Judaism at San Diego State University where she served as Chair of the department for the Study of Religion, the Classics & Humanities department and Director of the Jewish Studies Program. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, she earned a BA in History from York University and an MA in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Toronto. Her PhD in History was awarded in 1997 from the University of California, San Diego. Past president of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), Pacific Coast Region, she has also served as Chair of its Committee for the Status of Women in the Profession. Dr. Levitt's work includes A New Heart and a New Soul: Ezekiel, The Exile and the Torah (Sheffield Academic Press) and A Portable God, the Origin of Judaism and Christianity, co­authored with Dr. Rebecca Moore (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).  Levitt has worked closely with the Israel Antiquities Authority and has served as curator for Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibitions at the San Diego Natural History Museum (2007), The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (2008), the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada (2009) and the travelling exhibition “Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times,” which has appeared in New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Boston, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Denver. She served as an academic consultant for the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, Russia and is lead curator for the exhibition Memory Identity Encounter: Ukrainian · Jewish · Journey at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Levitt has been awarded two of SDSU's highest honors, the President's Top 25 Award, awarded by SDSU’s president to those accomplishing transformational work, and the Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Faculty Contribution to the University.

Anchor 2

With more than 40 years of experience, a master’s degree in Biblical Studies, and deep insight into his homeland’s complex past, Amir Orly is the ideal guide to show you Israel’s many treasures. He serves as a guide for dignitaries, media, and heads of state and has developed and taught academic programs on religion and regional conflict for several American universities. Amir will enrich each stop along your journey with historical background and meaning.


Amir Orly, born in 1955, is a fourth-generation native of Israel. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in the History of the Jewish People, a Master’s degree in Biblical Studies, and an additional Master’s degree in Hebrew Literature. Amir has a wealth of experience in guiding tourists and has been sharing his expertise for decades. Additionally, he serves as a lecturer in the history of the Jewish people and biblical studies for academic programs at universities abroad.

bottom of page